Dill is an aromatic plant of Asian and Mediterranean origin, but not much used in Italian cuisine; it is a plant whose leaves and seeds are widely used in the cuisine of northern Europe and central Asia. Although it was widely used by the Egyptians and the Romans, its use in Italy in recent years derives from the ever wider contacts with Swedish cuisine. It is a perennial or biennial plant, cultivated as an annual; it has thin, finely divided leaves, very similar to those of wild fennel, gray-blue; the erect stems are quite branched and can reach 60-80 cm in height. It produces flowers of a yellow color, gathered in umbrella-shaped inflorescences; the flowers are followed by small oval seeds, used as a spice.
The aerial part of the plant usually dries up in winter, so the seeds are harvested before it dries up, and are kept in an airtight container; the leaves instead collect at the moment of use, since they lose their aroma quickly, in fact they are hardly dried but on the contrary used when needed; to maintain the aroma of the Dill it is also possible to freeze it in the freezer, using it immediately when it is thawed.
The Aneto, also called wild fennel, has an intense aroma, with an acidic aftertaste, but initially sweet; it is not appreciated by everyone, as it has a very intense aromatic note, which can be excessively strong, as happens with wild fennel.
Cultivate the Dill
Anethum graveolens is a plant of easy cultivation; one chooses a plot in the sun, and it is sown directly at home, by broadcaster; it is not necessary to thin the young plants, even if it is possible to practice this operation, possibly using the small plants eradicated as an aromatic plant.
It is watered after sowing, and it still intervenes when the soil is well dry; they are plants that tolerate drought well. The specimens grown in the dry, with sporadic watering, tend to have a more intense taste, but can also become leathery with time, so it is advisable to water in case of prolonged drought.
The leaves are harvested as needed, for the entire summer. Towards the end of summer, after having collected the seeds, it is possible to trim the plants and keep the leaves in the freezer, to use them during the winter.
The dill in the kitchen
The culinary association of dill that first comes to mind is that with salmon; Swedish cuisine in fact taught us to accompany this fish, smoked, carpaccio or baked, with anethum leaves, fresh or cooked with fish.
Often this aromatic herb is also used in salads, with raw or cooked vegetables, in canned pickled vegetables. In the cuisine of northern Europe it finds a place in vegetable soups, with meat, with fish.
It is used chopped with a knife, like parsley, and as the latter is added to the dishes just before taking them to the table, to prevent its scent from being dispersed in the air before being able to taste it.
In Asian cuisine it is used as a spice, the small aromatic seeds are in fact used as an anise, often added whole to the dishes, but also ground.
Dill seeds are another very interesting part of this plant, appreciated in herbal medicine more than in herbal medicine. The dry seeds in fact give off a strong smell and are therefore highly aromatic, but they also have special depurative, antispasmodic, calming and soothing properties.